DUBLIN (19 July 2022)

We spoke to Mohamed, who is currently volunteering in the Lighthouse homeless shelter. He has refugee status and has come to Ireland in search of a better life. He shared some of his thoughts and messages of hope. He only started learning English months ago so his brother Sal has translated our conversation from his native Arabic:

The political and economic situation in Lebanon right now is critical. There is a lot of division and inflation is at a record high. The recent pandemic and the explosion at the port of Beirut last August has had a massive impact as well. Before that was the Lebanon War fought between Israel and Hezbollah (Lebanese Shia Islamist political party and militant group, led by its Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah since 1992). So there has been obstacle after obstacle for our people. The majority of the resources come from overseas, so everyday commodities like food, clothes and petrol and getting more expensive by the day.


Lebanon’s economic crisis started in 2019. Today the country stands as “a failing State”, the UN expert claims. Current estimates indicate that four in every five people [in Lebanon] live in poverty.


Mohamed sorting ingredients at the No Buck's Cafe 

I never planned to come to Ireland but ultimately I decided to take this step to build a better life. I applied for refugee status and arrived in Ireland in March. My brother has lived here for many years and he has always told me great things about the culture and the people.

There are a lot of barriers for me daily. I am only a beginner in English for instance, but I keep an open mind and I’m learning new words and phrases every day. I keep that same mindset in everything new I take on.

I’ve never been to Europe before, the goal now is to learn the culture, the language and the “Irish ways”. I feel inspired and driven to learn and become better. The Irish people are very charismatic, humble, friendly and have a great sense of humour. I am very grateful at how they have accepted me and I wish to repay them back “double” for everything they do to help and make me feel like I am at home.

I came to volunteer in the Lighthouse through my brother who has volunteered there over the last 12, 13 years. In the beginning, it was very hard but over time I have started seeing the beauty of the work and it is very rewarding. Most people who work in the Lighthouse give me great attention as well. Sometimes I get very sad and frustrated to see people suffering on the street. That is why places like the Lighthouse are there, to help alleviate their suffering and give them a bit of comfort.

I am from Bekavali which is not a big city and I have never seen places like the Lighthouse. There is probably a few such places in Beirut but not where I lived. I’ve never come across people sleeping on the street there, there are a lot of Syrian refugees but they have designated places where they receive help from the United Nations.

The main thing I have learned in Ireland that could be implemented in Lebanon is to implement the order. People in Lebanon need to be calmer, to respect the laws of the land because right now it is the “law of the jungle” there. The government has collapsed, there is no law or rules. There are divisions in every community, including religious and political divisions.

If I could share the things I have learned in Ireland across Lebanon, I would ask the people to stand united without race, religion, language or skin colour. I would ask them to turn a new page in the book of our land. There is a lot of hope for the future [of Lebanon] but it all depends on the politicians.

Mohamed outside the Light House/No Buck's Cafe 

The knowledge I bring from Lebanon to Ireland that I wish to share with the Irish people is to do everything straight from the heart with love. To respect everyone without asking anything in return. Give your love to those who need it. We don’t what is going through the mind of those on the street or battles they fight within themselves.


Tiglin Column; 19th of July 2022